Abby Keefe | April 07, 2022
The semester is wrapping up, and for college seniors, graduation is just around the corner. Including high school, it’s been 16 years or more of classes, assignments and tests for many, all leading up to this one moment – graduation. But what now?
Entering the workforce can feel daunting, and it’s hard to know where to begin. If I could go back in time, here’s some advice I’d give myself before graduation.
Though my degree in public relations led me to a career within the same field, that’s not the case for everyone. Let’s face it, you’re asked to choose a path to pursue for the rest of your life at 18. It’s not unusual to have different interests four years later. Luckily, your degree likely provides you with transferrable skills you can apply to a variety of careers. For example, my PR degree honed my writing, strategic thinking and overall communications abilities. Desirable skills for roles in a wide range of fields.
Once completing your undergraduate degree, you have the choice to either further your education or enter the workforce. When making this decision, it’s important to consider your end goal. If the career you’re pursuing requires a graduate degree, this may be a no-brainer. If not, weigh the pros and cons and consider the value a graduate degree would provide, along with the costs. Also, assuming your next step doesn’t require more schooling, know there’s no rush, and you can choose to pursue that extra degree down the road.
All those networking events you attended for course credit? Believe it or not, your professors had a reason for making you go. If you’re lucky, you saved some business cards and maybe even stayed in touch with a few contacts. If not, there’s always LinkedIn.
Reaching out to people can seem intimidating, but I assure you, more people are willing to talk to you than you might think. We’ve all been in your shoes at one point. Just be sure you don’t message anyone outright asking for a job. Instead, show genuine interest in learning more about what they do.
This is also a great time to check in with previous internship supervisors, mentors and even your professors. Again, don’t reach out to anyone expecting them to hire you, but a simple note asking for post-grad advice can go a long way.
Now is the time to celebrate all you’ve accomplished these past four (or so) years! Set aside some time to look at your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio and anything else you might send a future employer. Make sure you’ve accurately captured all your achievements, including internships, awards, certifications, leadership roles and community service.
Include everything that demonstrates why you’d be a strong employee and get specific with your successes. Did you “post social media content” or did you “write copy and source graphics for social media content across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn”? When possible, include the results of your efforts to further showcase your accomplishments.
Once steps 1 through 3 are complete, it’s finally time to look for open positions. When I was preparing to graduate, I used platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and even my college’s job board. The Internet is a wonderful, magical place for job seekers, so be sure to use all the tools at your disposal.
Most colleges also host career fairs with companies specifically looking to hire recent graduates. While pitching yourself to potential employers might not be your idea of “fun,” these events make it easy for you to get face time with recruiters and build connections. Put on your best business professional outfit, print a few copies of your resume and get networking!
Should you decide to go straight into a career, welcome to the next 40 to 50 years of your life! In all seriousness, it’s important to remember that your first job doesn’t have to be your forever job. You may have spent the past four years dreaming of working for a Fortune 500 company or in “glamourous” industries like media or entertainment. If you’re not getting responses from any of those companies, though, that’s 100% OK. Be gentle with yourself, and remember you have so many years to learn, grow and build a successful career.
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Abby Keefe is an assistant account executive at Falls & Co. She works with clients across B2C and B2B industries on a variety of strategic communications initiatives, from media relations to social media marketing.